Yoga and mindfulness tips for your family
The fall season means getting back into a schedule and creating new routines for you and your family. No matter where you are in your day, these yoga hints will help parents and kids feel calmer and better able to handle whatever comes your way.
Begin the Day with Calm
Starting a brand new day at a frenzied pace is not an ideal way for anyone, adults or children, to begin the morning. Instead, spend a few moments doing some Sun Salutations and mindful breathing.
Begin by standing tall with your arms at your side. On your inhale, reach your arms up to the sky. On the exhale, relax and bring your arms back down to your sides. This simple movement along with deep, cleansing breaths gently awakens your body and calms your mind. Notice how you feel calmer and more prepared to embrace the day.
Take a Mindful Break
By the end of a school or work day, your mind can reach information overload. Instead of rushing immediately into the next thing you have to do, recognize this transition time between your day’s activities and home by taking a mindful break. This will help you set a more mindful tone before you begin your after-school activities, dinner preparations or other endeavors.
Child’s Pose is grounding and restorative, and can be a wonderful way to calm the central nervous system. Plus, it is quick and easy for both adults and children. Begin on your hands and knees. Spread your knees wide while keeping your big toes touching. Allow your forehead to reach the floor as you extend your arms. Breathe deeply in and allow your body to soften and relax as you exhale.
If taking Child’s Pose isn’t an option, then try some shoulder shrugs combined with mindful breathing. On the inhale, lift your shoulders up by your ears. On the exhale, lower your shoulders back down.
End on a High Note
When your family has settled back at home, have each person mindfully share three positive or happy things that happened in their day. This gives everyone an opportunity to see what is important to one another.
Creating a simple bedtime routine also helps to end the day calmly. Knowing what to expect each night leaves children feeling empowered and safe, especially after a day full of guided activities over which they may feel they had little control. This ritual can include dimming the lights, speaking in quiet voices, playing soothing music, taking deep calming breaths or doing a short body scan meditation.
Children love this easy meditation, and it completely calms them. This is as simple as closing your eyes and bringing attention to one part of your body at a time. For example, begin with your toes, then your feet, your legs and so on as you move on up your body.
Sara J. Weis is a leading expert in yoga for kids, bestselling author of Go Go Yoga for Kids: A Complete Guide to Using Yoga with Kids, creator of the Kids Yoga Challenge Pose Cards and Kids Yoga 101: How to Teach Yoga to Kids Online Training. She teaches for the West Des Moines School District and holds a master’s degree in education. This article was originally published in YogaIowa’s Fall 2017 issue.